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Response to Tribune Article – Renew Bahamas

Sep 20, 2016

 

The Tribune recently reported that Renew Bahamas was suspending its role as manager of the New Providence Landfill. In the article, Renew makes various claims which the Ministry of the Environment & Housing would like to clarify for the Bahamian people.

Renew contends amongst other things, that the Government has been unresponsive and unwilling to assist Renew with challenges it has faced from time to time. The article reads in part that “Mr. Cox hits out at what he describes as the Government’s failure to properly engage with Renew Bahamas. He further stated that the company had reached out to the Government for financial assistance and other assistance post Matthew, and to date, has not resulted in a meeting.”

The Ministry of the Environment & Housing takes grave exception to the comments made by Renew. The facts are that by a letter dated 11th October 2016, the Chief Executive Officer of Renew, Mr. Michael Cox, wrote to the Minister of the Environment & Housing that:

“I write to inform you under clause 2.15 (Force Majeure) that the CAT 4 Hurricane Matthew has restricted Renew Bahamas’ ability to perform its obligations under the Contract.

Areas that have affected the whole country and Renew included but are not limited to:

 Structural damage to the building and MRF

 Containers overturned

 No power

 No internet or communications restricting exportation management

 No fuel – limited supplies on Island with some sort of problem at Sun Oil distribution centre – rationing at stations which all have long queues for the last 4 days.

 APD has been shut since last Tuesday, so no exportations or revenues can be generated

 Limited staff availability on site as all are without power and /or communications

o 80% of the Island is still without power

o Only 25% of staff are coming

 Interruption in metal supplies to site with roads blocked have impeded the company’s ability to produce products.

All of these areas have affected the whole of New Providence in some shape or form.

Renew is unable to perform its operational duties at the site and urgently requests the assistance of the DEHS in agreeing a practical solution during the interim. We submit that in the interests of facilitating post – hurricane clean-up in New Providence, it is the interests of the Government of the Bahamas to find a workable solution.”

In regards to the allegation that there was no fuel on the Island post Hurricane Matthew, this issue was fully dispelled by the Chairman of Sun Oil during a recent press conference. As it relates to the other items, the fact is that the entire Northern Bahamas has been severely affected.

The following day, by letter dated 12th October 2016, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry responded formally to Renew:

“I refer to your email and its attachment of 11th October, 2016 with its request for assistance from the Government of The Bahamas to Renew Bahamas Limited for the operation of the New Providence Landfill. I also refer to your verbal communication with Minister Kenred Dorsett in which you indicated that Renew does not have the financial equity to engage contracts at the landfill site for it (Renew) to fulfil contractual obligations.

You will be aware that the Department of Environmental Health Services (DEHS) by disposing of the debris resulting from Hurricane Matthew, is already addressing Renew’s obligation under the Agreement of 27th January, 2014.

In light of all the challenges facing the New Providence Landfill, The Ministry of the Environment & Housing recommends the full takeover of operations at the Landfill by the DEHS. The DEHS will assume this responsibility on Monday 17th October, 2016. In the interim Mrs. Thomasina Wilson, Sr. Deputy Director and DEHS liaison with Renew will ensure that additional equipment is available to assist you in the disposal of household waste.

The DEHS will continue in this capacity until 1st November, 2016.”

It was also communicated to Renew that given the other challenges it had outlined in its letter; the Ministry would work to address these concerns as soon as possible.

As it relates to the cooperation between the Government and Renew over the past two years, it is disingenuous to state that the Government has failed to come to the table with Renew to discuss the challenges that it may have had and to chart a path forward and offer solutions and assistance.

Many of the factors affecting Renew’s operations and its performance under the Contract are related to management and administrative issues and are not attributable to Hurricane Matthew. Given these ongoing challenges, this matter has been forwarded to the Office of the Attorney-General for review of the contractual terms and obligations. We await their advice.

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